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Banksy and the Problem With Sarcastic Art (by Dan Brooks) | The New York Times Magazine
I've always been resolutely in the anti-Banksy camp, considering his work to be simplistic dross heavily promoted to dupe people largely uninterested in art into having false art experiences. Over the years I've read many articles expressing similar sentiments, some ham-fisted (e.g. Jonathan Jones, http://gu.com/p/3dqdp) and others very amusing (Charlie Brooker: "Renegade urban graffiti artist Banksy is clearly a guffhead of massive proportions, yet he's often feted as a genius straddling the bleeding edge of now. Why? Because his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots." http://gu.com/p/j987). Brooks' article is one of the first pieces I've read from a general press publication that offers an art historical perspective that gets close to core of Banksy's artistic chicanery.

Brooks argues that the 'sarcasm' that characterises the work of Banksy, also a component of the broader Internet culture, is a modern form of kitsch:
The defining feature of kitsch is that it preys on our desire to feel art succeed. It follows the formula of meaningful expression and exploits our willingness to manufacture the sensation of meaning. How wonderful, after all, to see a painting and be moved. As a species of contemporary kitsch, sarcasm takes advantage of our readiness to respond to actual wit. It, too, is mechanical and proceeds by formula.

[...] Like other forms of kitsch, Banksy’s work presents conventional wisdom as insights... As with memes, Banksy asks us to substitute the sensation of recognizing a reference for the frisson of wit.

I rather disagree with Brooks on the point that, if one loves art, "you must be glad that thousands of people are supporting it by going to 'Dismaland.'" I'm brought to think of Harold Bloom's criticism of J. K. Rowling (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/09/24/dumbing_down_american_readers/), in which he skewered the popular logic that the Harry Potter books are laudable if only for encouraging a generation of children to read, regardless of their literary merit. Bloom believed that reading the Harry Potter books will not lead to Kipling, Thurber, Grahame, or Carroll - but trains children to read Stephen King. I'm on the fence in this debate, because I sympathise with the popular feeling that Rowlings' influence on youth reading is meritorious, and I don't think her work is quite so execrable: she has a knack for absorbing narrative, creating stories with fine thrust and characterisation, albeit delivered with inelegant, journeyman prose.

However, I believe Rowling is sincere and well-intentioned on some level, unlike Banksy. I don't think Banksy driving crowds to art exhibitions is meritable, for he isn't merely an occasional perpetrator of cliché, but an outright charlatan who encourages the marketisation of culture. Do the visitors to a Banksy exhibition at an art gallery ever look at the permanent collection? I know people who read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series and went on to reading better books for pleasure (I like to think I'm one of them), but from personal observation, I've found that admiration of Banksy doesn't lead to a keen interest in art. In fact, enjoying Banksy it is usually the end of enthusiasm, consumption that superficially satisfies curiosity without nourishment.

I don't accept the elitist stance that Banksy's audience are victims of their own stupidity - at least, not all of them - but victims of the actions of unprincipled marketers, curators, and arts organisations. And Banksy is yet more egregious because he monetises a popular art, graffiti, by adding a veneer of bourgeois respectability: he profits from false credentials as a social critic, and false credentials as an urban artist.
art  kitsch  dross  detritus 
september 2015 by killjoy
Thomas Nashe
On June 1st of the previous year Elizabeth's chief censor, Archbishop Whitgift, had commanded 'that all Nasshes bookes and Doctor Harveyes bookes be taken wheresoever they maye be founde, and that none of theire bookes bee ever printed hereafter.'

Internal evidence leaves no doubt that it was played before him in the Great Hall at Croydon Palace around October 7th-10th, 1592.
thomas_nashe  archbishop_whitgift  1592  tinne  dross  sir_walter_raleigh 
july 2014 by oog
AOL Close to Buying TechCrunch: Tech News «
AOL Close to Buying TechCrunch http://l.colib.com/aiouvM I hope it goes behind the walled garden and withers. #dross
dross  via:packrati.us 
september 2010 by paulmwatson

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